Thursday, December 4, 2008

Republican Congresswoman Hangs up on Obama

Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida hung up on Obama and Rohm Emmanuel Twice. Ros-Lehtinen claims she thought she was being punked just like Sarah Palin was several weeks ago.

When President-elect Barack Obama called Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen at her South Florida district office Wednesday, she hung up on him.

'I thought: `Why would Obama want to call a little slug on the planet like me?' '' Ros-Lehtinen said.

A short time later, Rahm Emanuel, Obama's designated chief of staff, called. Ros-Lehtinen hung up on him, too.

''I thought it was one of the radio stations in South Florida playing an incredible, elaborate, terrific prank on me,'' Ros-Lehtinen said. ``They got Fidel Castro to go along. They've gotten Hugo Chavez and others to fall for their tricks. I said, 'Oh, no, I won't be punked'.''

Ros-Lehtinen was in Miami when she received Obama's first call about 1 p.m. on her cell phone from a Chicago-based number. The person on the line told Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican, that the President-Elect would like to speak to her.

A man, who Ros-Lehtinen said sounded like Obama, got on the line and congratulated her on her reelection and said he was looking forward to working with her as the ranking Republican member of the House Foreign Affairs committee.

The conversation lasted just a minute when Ros-Lehtinen cut Obama off, telling him she wasn't falling for the hoax and that he was a better impersonator than the guy on Saturday Night Live.

Then Emanuel called, and she hung up on him. It finally took Rep. Howard Berman, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, to persuade Ros-Lehtinen that the president-elect indeed wanted to talk to her.

''I asked Howard to tell me a private joke we share about colleagues in the House to make sure it really was him,'' Ros-Lehtinen said. ``When he did, I realized it was the real deal.''

Ros-Lehtinen said she then told Berman: ``I know this sounds very presumptuous, but please tell President-elect Obama he can call me now and I will take his call.''

Obama called back, and Ros-Lehtinen said she told him she ''wasn't playing hard to get,'' but thought it was a joke like Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin getting the call from someone pretending to be French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

This would be the second time in two days the people of Florida got punked. What is it about Conservative Republican women and the fear of getting punked.
Marc Ambinder is reporting that Jeb Bush is considering a run for the Senate to replace the retiring Mel Martinez:

Two sources close to Jeb Bush, including one who has spoken to the former Florida governor within the past few hours, say he is seriously considering a run for Senate now that incumbent Republican Mel Martinez has retired.

"He is receiving a lot of encouragement from both in and out of the state," an longtime Bush adviser said tonight. "He is going to take his time and approach this very methodically." Bush will weigh, according to this adviser, how a run would impact his family, his business, and whether the Senate would be the best platform for the causes he'd advocate -- education, immigration, GOP solutions to health care and energy.

Bush did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

If he decides to run, Republicans expect the field to clear for him. Maybe. Gov. Charlie Crist, with whom Bush has not had the warmest of relations, is said to be interested in moving to the Senate. Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum is weighing a bid, as is former state House Speaker Marco Rubio, Orange County executive Richard Crotty, and U.S. Rep. Connie Mack.

Via ThinkProgress, in an interview with NewsMax, President Bush's brother Jeb says the Republican party should not cave to a Democratic majority. Rather, they should set up a "shadow government" to provide a counter-agenda.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush tells Newsmax that the GOP must broaden its appeal to avoid becoming "the old white-guy party," and recommends that Republicans create a "shadow government" to engage Democrats on important issues as the incoming Obama administration seeks to enact its agenda.

In a wide-ranging interview with Newsmax, the popular former governor and younger brother of President George W. Bush said the 2008 election was neither "transformational" nor a landslide. For example, he noted that Barack Obama's significant fundraising advantage over John McCain played a key role in Democratic success this year.

Bush urged Republicans not to abandon their core conservative principles in favor of a "Democratic-lite" agenda. Still, the GOP does need to do some real soul-searching, he said.

Should the Auto Industry be Bailed Out?

Congress will once again consider whether it will bail out the auto industry. The other option being debated is bankruptcy for the big three. But even if they are "bailed out" is it any guarantee that these companies will survive. Isn't there a better solution? How about loans with strings attached? So far the bailing out of the financial markets has been a big flop.

The heads of the big three U.S. automakers are to testify before a U.S. Senate committee Thursday, to make the case for why the government should spend $34 billion to bail them out.

General Motors, Ford and Chrysler are reporting their worst sales in 26 years. GM and Chrysler say they may be out of business by February without government help.

But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, tells the Associated Press there are not enough Senate votes at this time to bail out the carmakers.

All three have submitted plans for rebuilding their businesses, severely hurt by the global recession, a lack of consumer credit, and selling large gas-guzzling cars many customers no longer want.

Along with promises to build more environmentally friendly hybrid and electric vehicles, the companies promise to cut jobs and slash executive pay and bonuses.

The United Auto Workers Union says it will renegotiate its contracts with the companies.

Ralph Nader has an opinion on all these bailouts:
In the past ten weeks, “government capitalism” has been a patsy, absorbing huge taxpayer dollars and liabilities to save an assortment of Wall Street financial corporations. Washington is guaranteeing a clutch of securitized mortgages and consumer loans and even guaranteeing, for the first time, 4 trillion dollars of money market funds.

The bailout of Citigroup illustrates the paucity of reciprocity. It is a sweetheart deal. With Citigroup’s co-executive. Robert Rubin rushing to Washington to structure the deal to save his bank and his own stock portfolio, the Bush regime took on $20 billion in preferred shares and put taxpayers at risk for over $300 billion in the big bank’s loan portfolio. Earlier in October, taxpayers were compelled to buy $25 billion in Citi preferred shares.

Whereas the Feds earlier took a potential 79% ownership of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to save those companies, for Citi the government only took 7.8% stake and left the management and board of directors intact.

Since these enormous bailouts and revisions of bailouts largely occur over weekends in frantic secret huddles between government officials formerly from Wall Street and their former colleagues from Wall Street, the actual agreements are not disclosed. They are considered official secrets, assuming they even have been finalized beyond mere memoranda of understanding.

Since all these deals, and more seem to be coming from other commercial and industrial pleaders, are general and appear to be open-ended, resourceful government capitalism can advance shareholder rights across the board and compel a variety of corporate reforms and accountabilities long-desired by progressives and conservatives alike.

[...]Let’s have a level playing field here and treat all corporate welfare demanders under equal procedural rules shaped on Capitol Hill. Remember the Constitution. It says all spending bills start with the House of Representatives and then go to the Senate and then to the President. Secret taxpayer bailouts by Executive Branch press releases are not what the framers had in mind when they wrote the Constitution.

With the installation of a new president and a new Congress next month, the process must be reversed and these White House-corporate “understandings” have to be reconsidered and, if maintained, revised.

This is a rare moment in American economic history. Just as the multinational corporations were about to complete the entrenchment of the corporate state in Washington, D.C., — what President Franklin Delano Roosevelt described in 1939 as a condition of fascism—their speculative greed, recklessness, mismanagement and de-regulatory license turned them into massive supplicants at the taxpayers’ trough.

The public does not think the bailing out of the auto industry is a good idea. They are right:
A national poll suggests that six in 10 Americans oppose using taxpayer money to help the ailing major U.S. auto companies.

Sixty-one percent of those questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey out Wednesday are dead set against the federal government providing billions of dollars in assistance for the automakers, with 36 percent favoring such a bailout.

The poll, conducted Monday and Tuesday, also indicates that a majority of Americans, 53 percent, don't think government assistance for the automakers will help the U.S. economy.

"Only 15 percent say that they would be immediately affected if the auto companies went bankrupt," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. "Seven in 10 say that a bailout would be unfair to American taxpayers."

In early November, polls indicated that nearly half the public supported federal assistance to the big automakers when this issue first came before Congress.